Students at King Edward's take both English Language and English Literature IGCSEs at the end of the Fifth Year.

CIE English Language IGCSE (0500)

Two examination papers are taken at the end of the course:


  • This is worth 80 marks.
  • It lasts for two hours.
  • Candidates answer three compulsory questions on three texts which may be on a similar topic.
  • Candidates write all their answers in the space provided on the question paper.
  • Text A and Text B will be 700–750 words in length and Text C will be 500–650 words in length.
  • Candidates should spend approximately 15 minutes reading the texts.
  • The texts will be printed on the question paper insert.
  • Dictionaries may not be used.

Question 1: Comprehension and summary task (30 marks) 

Comprehension task: This question requires candidates to respond to Text A. Candidates respond to a series of sub-questions. These include short answers testing understanding of both explicit and implicit meanings; candidates will also need to select and use information for specific purposes.

Summary task: This question requires candidates to respond to Text B. Candidates answer a selective summary task in their own words. Candidates write their summary as continuous writing of no more than 120 words. It is strongly recommended that they compile their own bullet-point list of relevant facts and information from the text before starting their continuous writing.

Question 2: Short-answer questions and language task (25 marks)

Short-answer questions - 10 marks: This part of Question 2 requires candidates to respond to Text C. Candidates respond to a series of sub-questions which require answers of different lengths. They need to demonstrate once again an understanding of implicit meanings, explicit meanings and attitudes, and how writers achieve effects and influence readers. The short-answer questions are essentially a warm-up for the next part....

Language task (Explanation of Effects) - 15 marks: This question requires candidates to respond to Text C again. Students are asked to choose six quotations (three each from two different paragraphs) and to explore how the words create an effect upon the reader: which senses and emotions they appeal to and what kind of mood and atmosphere they depict. It is vital that candidates strive to choose imagery that is rich in connotations for them to analyse and evaluate. Once they have chosen their six examples and analysed them precisely and thoroughly, candidates need to insert an overview for each group of three, describing briefly the overall impression given by their specific paragraph.

Question 3: Extended response to reading - Genre Transformation (25 marks)

For this question candidates will read Text C closely again; they need to select ideas and details from it and develop them relevantly, and write a composition in a new genre, e.g. a letter, report, journal, speech, interview or article. Some crucial pointers for them to remember:

• They must plan their answers very carefully before starting to write.

• The question is very formulaic, so they must follow the guidelines to the letter.

• Writing in an appropriate register for the text type is also crucial.

• They must address all 3 bullet points. If they don’t address the third they will be capped at a C.

• They should write a plan for each bullet point containing around 5-6 points. Unfortunately, students often make the mistake of including only 2-3.

• They must write their composition using their own words; they must not lift quotations from the text.

These are the steps they must follow when planning and writing their responses:

1. Step back (zoom out) from the text: come up with an overarching (‘umbrella’) point in relation to the bullet point (POINT).

2. Detail: evidence from the text that supports their point. They must put it in their own words: It is crucial that they use synonyms, and do NOT lift phrases from the text. (DET)

3. Development: this is testing their skills of inference (and imagination). Candidates have to speculate and extrapolate from evidence in the original text. Development is often emotion-based. (DEV)

For the Genre Transformation task, candidates will receive a mark out of 15 for Reading, which will include an assessment of their capacity to analyse, evaluate and develop facts, ideas and opinions, using appropriate support from the text; and a mark out of 10 for Writing, which will include an assessment of their capacity to organise and structure ideas and opinions for deliberate effect and use a register, range of vocabulary and sentence structures that are appropriate to context.


Question 1: Directed Writing (40 marks):

Candidates are given some stimulus material (usually one passage but sometimes two) and are set a task to use, develop and evaluate the information in the text(s) to create a discursive/argumentative/ persuasive speech, letter or article. Candidates write about 250–350 words.

This question tests the following writing assessment objectives (25 marks): 

W1 - Articulate experience and express what is thought, felt and imagined 

W2 - Organise and structure ideas and opinions for deliberate effect 

W3 - Use a range of vocabulary and sentence structures appropriate to context 

W4 - Use register appropriate to context 

W5 - Make accurate use of spelling, punctuation and grammar. 

This question also tests the following reading assessment objectives (15 marks): 

R1 - Demonstrate understanding of explicit meanings 

R2 - Demonstrate understanding of implicit meanings and attitudes 

R3 - Analyse, evaluate and develop facts, ideas and opinions, using appropriate support from the text 

R5 - Select and use information for specific purposes.

Question 2: Composition (40 marks):

Candidates are given two questions asking them to DESCRIBE and two choices asking them to NARRATE (tell a story). They answer ONE of these FOUR choices. Candidates use the title provided to develop and write a composition. They should write about 350–450 words.

CIE English Literature IGCSE (0475)

The aims of this course are to develop learners who: 

Enjoy the experience of reading literature 

• Understand and respond to literary texts in different forms and from different periods and cultures 

• Communicate an informed personal response appropriately and effectively 

• Appreciate different ways in which writers achieve their effects 

• Experience literature’s contribution to aesthetic, imaginative and intellectual growth 

• Explore the contribution of literature to an understanding of areas of human concern.

Component 1: Poetry and Prose: 1 hour and 30 minutes

50 marks (50% of total marks for Literature)

  • Closed Text (no books in exam room)
  • Students will answer TWO questions, one on EACH text:

One poetry (Songs of Ourselves Volumes 1 or 2; Carol Ann Duffy)

One prose (e.g. '1984', 'Their Eyes Were Watching God')

  • For EACH text they will have a choice of two questions (one passage-based and one essay).

Component 3: Drama: 45 Minutes

25 marks (25% of total marks for Literature)

  • Open Text (students are given a CLEAN copy of the play in the exam)
  • Candidates MUST answer ONE question on a Shakespeare play, e.g. 'Romeo and Juliet'.
  • They will have a choice of two questions (one passage based and one essay).

Component 4: Unseen: 1 hour and 15 minutes

25 marks (25% of total marks for Literature)

Candidates will answer a question on either an unseen poem or an unseen prose passage (they choose).

They must write a critical commentary in relation to the main focal question and guiding bullet points.

The assessment objectives (AOs) for CIE IGCSE English Literature are: 

AO1 - Show detailed knowledge of the content of literary texts in the three main forms (drama, poetry and prose), supported by reference to the text. 

AO2 - Understand the meanings of literary texts and their contexts, and explore texts beyond surface meanings to show deeper awareness of ideas and attitudes. 

AO3 - Recognise and appreciate ways in which writers use language, structure and form to create and shape meanings and effects. 

AO4 - Communicate a sensitive and informed personal response to literary texts.

Each of these AOs has an equal weighting of 25%.